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Bed Bug’s Secret Invasion Strategy Revealed: Inbreeding

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A bed bug nymph feeding on host

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Back in the 1950s, American exterminators thought that the common bed bug, had been completely eliminated. However, over the past decade, these blood-sucking pests have made a huge comeback. In fact, in hotels, homes, and multi-unit housing complexes across the United States, the number of reported bed bug infestations have surpassed (up to 100x) the numbers recorded; in 1990. If for no other reason, it appears that the bed bug’s ability to produce healthy young through inbreeding, is a major contributing factor to the continued strength; of their U.S. invasion.

Inbreeding gives bed bugs an advantage in being able to colonize. A single female that has been mated is able to colonize and start a new infestation. Her progeny and brothers and sisters can then mate with each other, exponentially expanding the population. With many organisms, extensive inbreeding would cause serious mutations that would eventually bring about an end to the population.” – an entomologist at North Carolina State University.

A recent study on how bed bugs survive genetic inbreeding, was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In the report, researchers reported that in each dwelling, there were high levels of inbreeding and that genetic diversification, was very low. This important discovery, suggested that only one or two bed bugs are required, for a serious bug control problem to develop.

The ability to produce healthy offspring through inbreeding, allows these bugs to expand the infestation to other areas within a building, without any outside assistance. In fact, in almost all of the infestations studied, just a single room within the dwelling; was found to be the source of the pest control problem. It is also interesting to note, that cockroaches are another species of pest, that have the ability to survive inbreeding; as well.

English: Carter-Finley Stadium, North Carolina...

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